App Switcher typing tutorial

As we covered in an earlier tutorial, the app switcher in iOS 7 provides the ability to do some pretty cool things that you could never do in previous firmware.

For starters, there’s the ability to use swipe gestures to kill apps — even multiple apps at the same time by using more than one finger. Next, you have the ability to see what’s going on in each of the running apps, courtesy of the switcher’s new full screen app snapshots.

One of the positive side effects of this new app switcher view are the “multitasking” possibilities that stem out of it. First, let me clear the air and state the obvious — this isn’t true multitasking; but as we showed you already, by thinking outside of the box, you can stretch the app switcher’s abilities to meet your needs.

One such need was stumbled upon by reader Matthew Seltzer. After watching our initial app switcher tutorial, he discovered a handy way to get even more out it. If you happen to have a Bluetooth keyboard connected to your iPad, you can take advantage of the last app’s focus in order to continue to type while the app switcher is open.

This means that, yes, it’s totally possible to compose a document in Pages, Byword, or any other app that has text input, all while the app switcher is open. As you might imagine, this provides for some fairly interesting possibilities.

Perhaps you’re wondering to yourself why such a thing would be useful. Why in the world would anyone even bother to type in an app that’s partially zoomed out while the app switcher is open? It’s simply a matter of being able to get things done while multiple apps and their contents are available to view.

For example, say I decided to write a story about a recent app update. One of the first places I’d research is the App Store’s release notes for the app I’m covering. Obviously, I can do this via the App Store on my iOS device. So, in theory, I could start my post in Safari, invoke the app switcher in order to view the App Store’s release notes for that app (which has already been previously opened), and continue typing as I read the release notes.

This is just a high level example of how and why such a practice could and would be useful. Indeed, it’s certainly stretching the purpose of the app switcher, but if Apple allows you to retain focus to the last app while browsing through your switcher, there’s no reason not to take advantage of such a feature if you happened to need it in a pinch.

In other words, it’s nice to be aware of such possibilities, and I’d like to thank Matthew for his observations. If you happen to have a Bluetooth keyboard, try it for yourself. It even works on smaller devices like the iPhone and iPod touch, but admittedly, that would really be stretching it. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comment section below.

  • Flux

    Jailbreak > Stock. Neverending story.

    • Bishop

      This is so true

    • Arthur Geron

      Except for the fact that every single tweak(which rarely is open source) can have some kind of spy and monitor your actions, steal photos, etc. And worst, a lot of the good ones are paid, usually a rip off.. There’s no much of a big deal about using stock instead, at least it’s stable,secure ,beautiful and has considerably a lot of new features that prob got inspiration from jailbreak tweaks..

      • Raashid

        Secure and beautiful in what sense? Blinding neon colors aren’t considered beautiful in my book. Neither is losing all hopes of retrieving my phone when the thief attempts to turn it off. Would much rather move Android than mindlessly remain limited by official iOS…I didn’t pay a hefty price tag for a lame, restrictive brick.

      • Bangali

        then don’t..?

      • Arthur Geron

        In the past everyone argued how apple didn’t change, and how it never added features that were really innovating. Now that they did, a bunch of ppl say they hate it, well, I think apple can’t just please everyone, right? At least we have many new features.

        if you lock your iphone with a password, there’s no sense in stealing a iphone anymore, since apple will ask for your login and password after he restores it.

        Also, every freedom has its problems, just like jailbreak, google play hardly has some control over what kind of apps people make for android, making it another place where you install software into your OS without knowing what else it could be doing to your phone, making it necessary for you to install an anti-virus, which will est up memory and still not be 100% safe.

        But if you still prefer freedom over security and. quality, just don’t buy and iPhone.

      • Raashid

        Change isn’t always for the better you know. They could have easily been a lot more innovative and satisfied almost everyone by introducing a tweak store or at least giving theme options. All of the so-called “new features” have been available as jailbreak tweaks or have had significantly better alternatives on Cydia.

        Regarding locking your phone with a password, not every thief cares to use your phone you know; they could just take it and sell it for parts and “Activation Lock” does help in preventing that. With iCaughtU pro, at least I’ll have their face in my inbox, ready to call crime stoppers, the moment they attempt turning off my iPhone the regular way.

        Regarding freedom problems, must be a noob to the jailbreak community. Here, we have what we call “Trusted Repos”; their owners test tweaks before making them available on the repo. It’s no less secure than Apple’s AppStore as it’s humans that do the testing in both cases.

        I value jailbreak freedom over Android freedom due to both the “App Store” and “Trusted Repos” being moderated for malicious apps/tweaks. So, why bother about security problems on such limited functionality devices (compared to my productive PC) when I don’t have to with jailbreak? Whenever I lose my jailbreak (or Cydia dies), Android is my next destination.

      • Arthur Geron

        Yes, I agree they could have pleased everyone better if they had added themes to iOS 7, but’s easier to expect them to make it easy to jailbreak than suddenly add themes to iOS7. But we never know the future..As if the robber is smart enough to steal iphones to tear them down and sell their parts, then he probably won’t try his luck with the lock-screen password, I assume thar robber would shutdown your iphone right away or just force it to shutdown, making any security tweak useless.
        Still, jailbreak is better than stock, but I can live without it while I wait the version for iOS 7

  • Michael

    Neat find. I noticed before that camera apps will keep displaying live video feeds while in the app switcher, but didn’t even think of this.

  • Ben R

    I know Matthew Seltzer! – He told me he emailed you. We are good friends. He is also a part of my blog, as well as Spencer K, and Ben Z.

    • Matthew


  • ɑղժɾҽա


  • Tommy Gumbs

    I just don’t get the whole keyboard with iPad fad. It just looks stupid…but hey to each his own………and for the record, I did have a case with a built in keyboard. I found it to be so hard to type I gave it away.

    • Raashid

      It’s for those who wannabe productive on a consumption tablet. They’re trying to make their iPad their one-device…

      • Tommy Gumbs

        I know…I tried it. It doesn’t work as well as a computer…. I would rather have a MBP air

      • David Villamizar

        MBP air? LOL

      • Tommy Gumbs

        The Macbook air. For some reason I thought it had the “Pro” tag in its name. Regardless, you know what I mean.

  • Awesome tip!